According to ESPN, Tiger Woods has issued a statement confirming he will return from his self-imposed leave of absence to play in the Masters in April. Woods issued the statement through his publicist within the last few hours, ending a long period of speculation as to when he would come back to the tour.
Woods said, “The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect. After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I am ready to start my season at Augusta.”
He then added, “The major championships have always been a special focus in my career, and as a professional, I think Augusta is where I need to be, even though it’s been awhile since I last played.”
Tiger’s decision to come back at the Masters certainly adds plenty to the anticipation of the year’s first major. Golf has really been struggling without him. It’s interesting to hear him say that Augusta “is where he needs to be.” The way he says it almost suggests that he is looking at the tournament as a sanctuary for his return. Hey, it may not be far off. With Augusta National, you always know you’re going to get high security, very regulated crowds, and about as much privacy as possible in the game of golf. Not to mention the fact that the executives and members probably still have a great deal of respect for Tiger after all he has done for the club.
Woods went on to mention in the statement that he didn’t think it was at all possible to return earlier than The Masters. He said he is continuing his treatment and still has plenty to do to improve his personal life. He also, according to his own personal standards, needs to get back to the physical condition that he once was in.
Overall, I think he picked a good comeback tournament. It’s probably the place on the PGA Tour where he feels most comfortable and the place where he will be the subject of the least harassment…if that’s possible. It will undoubtedly be a media frenzied, emotional week at Augusta, but at least it’s at a place where he feels comfortable.